The price of vehicles, generally, move northward. This can be attributed to numerous different factors like cost of materials, labor, logistics, additional equipment needed to stay up to date with safety code, and inflation, among many other things. Cars.com noted in last month’s best sellers roundup that the average car now transacts for about $32,631 (in November), and while that’s down year-over-year, the general trend is upward.
That being said, you can still find cars on the south side of $15,000, new off the showroom floor. Be warned, though, if you’re looking for any sort of truck or SUV, you’re going to have to hit the used circuit or seriously reconsider your spending allowance. Nothing less than $15,000 is going to be large, powerful, fast, stately, or luxurious — but they’ll be cheap, and more importantly, cheap to maintain.
In times where the best-selling luxury vehicle in the U.S. is a truck, and virtually no car leaves the dealer for the cheapest price listed, here are the 10 vehicles that represent the absolute bottom of the new car pricing spectrum. Note that the prices offered are the manufacturer MSRPs, so taxes, options, and delivery fees have not been included.
10. Toyota Yaris
The Yaris has never quite caught on in the U.S., but that hasn’t stopped Toyota from trying. With a new face and a starting price of $14,850 for 2015, it’s one of the most affordable subcompacts on the market. No longer the frumpy econobox that has long failed to inspire American buyers, it now sports some new European-derived styling and looks well at home among Toyota’s other offerings.
While the Yaris looks fresh and new, the same can’t be said for the Mazda2. In fact, the Mazda isn’t returning for the 2015 model year, but the company will ride out the 2014 subcompact until a new and revitalized 2016 model hits showrooms next year. The Mazda is just marginally cheaper than the Toyota, by about $100, at $14,720.
8. Chevrolet Sonic
The Sonic has long been Chevy’s affordable entry vehicle in the North American market, and despite the arrival of the cheaper Sonic, it’s still among the least expensive cars on the market. It, like the Yaris, has received an updated appearance for 2015, sporting a new front fascia to pair with its price of $14,245. If money is less of a concern, though, and fun is more of one, it’s probably worth shelling out the extra few grand and graduating to the turbocharged Sonic LTZ or RS.
7. Nissan Versa Note
Buyers looking for the bare essentials would be well-advised to check out the Nissan Versa Note, which combines four-door hatchback versatility with a near-rock bottom price of $14,180. It won’t be winning any races for sure, but if you’re looking for a sharper aesthetic edge, consumers can opt for the Note SR, which adds some sweet rims, a more aggressive body kit, and halogen headlamps, among other things.
6. Ford Fiesta
Ford’s Fiesta hatchback is a huge hit abroad, notably in Europe, thanks to its small footprint, impressive fuel efficiency, and low entry cost. In the States, the Fiesta starts at $13,965 for the S sedan trim (it bumps up to $14,365 for the hatch, which is pictured). The 1.6 liter inline-four provides efficient and adequate power, but like the Chevy, there’s the Fiesta ST turbo option that might very well be worth your dollars.
5. Kia Rio
The Rio has never enjoyed the same kind of commercial success that its competitors from Honda, Ford, or Toyota do, but nonetheless, it’s a respectable car for not a whole lot of money. For your $13,900, you get 27 miles per gallon in the city and 37 on the highway, and 138 horsepower — 29 more than the Versa Note, and 18 more than the Fiesta.
4. Smart ForTwo
The Smart city car is, at this point, incredibly long in the tooth. A new, completely redesigned generation is slated for 2016, but we’ll be riding the 2014 model through until next fall when the redesign hits showrooms. It’s not speedy, it’s transmission has been panned by just about every critic who has gotten behind the wheel, but as far as urban maneuverability goes on a budget, the $13,270 Smart has few rivals.
3. Mitsubishi Mirage
It’s fortunate that the Mitsubishi is as affordable as it is, because it doesn’t appear to have much else going for it; it’s bare-bones inside as well as out, and though it’s fuel efficient (44 miles per gallon on the highway), drivers might fear a steep hill or a stiff wind. It uses a 1.2 liter three-cylinder to churn out all of 74 horsepower, which Motor Week said was able as far as power delivery but suffered a rough idle. Still, at $12,995, it’s hard to expect a whole lot more.
2. Chevrolet Spark
The Spark is a sportier, more modern alternative to the Mirage, and it happens to be cheaper too, albeit barely at $12,270 at base. Like the Mirage, it emphasizes minimal frill-transportation over sporty handling or utility, though it sports slightly less fuel economy due to an additional cylinder (but it comes with 10 more horsepower).
1. Nissan Versa
Taking the crown for the most affordable car — again — is the Nissan Versa sedan, at a lowly $11,990. For this, you get four seats and a steering wheel, and also headlamps, some mirrors, and air conditioning. Bluetooth hands-free is even thrown in, as is the five-speed manual transmission. It’s not glamorous, but it’ll meet many drivers’ basic needs.